The World of the Moon
Thirty: CRAB Battle Part Three: The Question
And with this, the 30th chapter in this story, I've more or less come to the end of this series of oneshots.
What does this mean going forward? Well, mostly it means that I will no longer be updating this on a regular basis of one new entry a week. This fic will (most probably) still be updated, if/when I get inspiration for new oneshots, but those will only be when they hit, and thus will be rarer than normal. I'll be moving on to focus on other stories.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this last chapter of CRAB Battle.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
They was a messy tangled of sprawled limbs and groaning females in the gardens of the Tohno Mansion.
For a long moment, no one moved. And then, finally, Ciel shifted, falling away from the pile and landing on the floor.
"I told you we shouldn't have trusted that Neco-Arc to send us back properly."
"What? She indeed delivered us to the correct location!" SIon pointed out, the second one to disengage and the first one to stand up.
"Yes, but the manner in which she did so leaves a bit to be desired." Akiha said as she pulled herself free of the pile.
"Um, guys?" from the bottom of the pile came a muffled voice. "It's kinda uncomfortable being here on the bottom. Would you mind moving a little quicker?"
"Ah, my apologies, Yumizuka-san." Quickly, Hisui got off, followed by Kohaku and Riesbyfe. "Are you injured?"
"Oh, eh no!" Satsuki sat up, rubbing the back of her head. "I'm tougher than that, after all! It was just kind of uncomfortable."
"Ahem," Sion coughed. "Moving on... we have secured the potion, have we not?"
Hisui nodded, holding the bottle up to show Sion.
"Well, next thing to do is find Shiki and Arcueid in order to feed them that potion," Riesbyfe said. "Maybe slip it into their drinks or somethng?"
"Indeed," Akiha tossed several strands of hair back across her shoulder. "Kohaku?"
"Yes, Akiha-sama!" Kohaku said cheerfully as she pulled what appeared to be a heavily modified Gameboy out from the folds of her robe. "Let's see here..."
"Tohno-san, is that...?"
Akiha smirked at Ciel. "What? Are you surprised that I would have something on hand with which to track nii-san?"
Any reply Ciel would have made was drowned out by an excited shout from Kohaku.
"I've got it! He's… at the quay right now. Probably one of the restaurants along the riverside."
"Hm. In that case, I suppose it's a safe bet that vampire is with him."
"I see," Sion nodded. "In that case -" shimmering strands of etherlite flicked through the air, yanking the bottle out of Hisui's hands.
Ignoring the surprised gasp from the quiet maid, Sion waved her hand. "Akiha-san, Ciel, my thanks for your aid during the journey. I'll be taking my leave now."
And she turned and ran, leaving Satsuki to start with surprise and begin chasing after her, and for Riesbyfe to make a brief, apologetic bow before leaving along with her friend.
"Shiki?" Arcueid cocked her head to the side, an expression of wide-eyed curiosity on her face. It somehow made her look even cuter than usual. "Is something the matter?"
Shiki shook his head. "Well, no, at least, I don't think so. I just… can't shake this odd feeling."
"Oh? Anything in particular you're feeling strange about?"
"That's just it. I can't think of any reason for me to be feeling uneasy."
"But you are anyway?" Arcueid picked up her glass of water and took a drink from it. "That sounds kinda serious, Shiki. Maybe you should get it looked into."
"Well, maybe," Shiki sighed. "But the last time I felt uneasy like this was when… well… when you were making that cake for me and you hadn't told me about it yet."
"Oh. So it's intuition, huh?" Arcueid said as she sat back. "But what could there be that would make you feel like that?"
"What indeed?" Shiki shrugged.
"Dammit!" Ciel swore as she leapt to the air. I hadn't expected that Sion would be the one to make the first move!
Fortunately for Sion and unfortunately for Ciel, the trees surrounding the Tohno mansion grounds made ideal cover for an escape, and so Ciel was unable to catch her before they had reached the city.
Sion, Riesbyfe, and Yumizuka. All of them have the endurance and strength needed to keep moving until they reach Shiki and Arcueid. Their stealth skills at being able to sneak the potion to him she was rather less sure about, but that was secondary. Her first goal would be to reclaim the potion.
Soon she was within the city proper once more, jumping from rooftop to lamppost and rooftop again as she sought to cover more ground.
The Back Alley Alliance… well, they were given that name for a reason. They probably know the alleyways and backstreets of Misaki city well. And it's only natural someone like Tohno-san wouldn't have a good knowledge of those paths if she wanted to give chase. A smirk came across Ciel's face. Well, it looks like Sion didn't remember to take me into account. I patrol these streets every night, and I know all the shortcuts.
And if Ciel didn't miss her guess, the route that led to the quay the quickest would be… right… over… there…
Ciel's eyes narrowed as she caught sight of a figure clad in grey and black standing in her path, and adjusted her next jump so that she would land in front of her.
"Yo," Riesbyfe grinned cheerily. "You got here faster than Sion anticipated, Ciel. Barely had time to set up before you arrived."
"Shield Knight Stridberg," Ciel said. "Stand down and let me pass."
"No can do, Burial Agent. I don't have a personal stake in the potion, so Sion and Satsuki are counting on me to hold the line against you."
"You cannot possibly believe that you can defeat me," Ciel snapped as she drew her Black Keys.
"See, that's the thing. I don't need to defeat you. I just need to – what?" Riesbyfe snapped to attention at the same time that Ciel realized that they were not alone in the alleyway.
Whirling, she confronted the mass of dark, whirring, clicking shapes as they converged on her location.
"Typical Ciel," Akiha smirked as she dialled her cell phone, arranging for a car to be brought up. "Rushing off without even thinking of the consequences. But this is my city, and I know how to handle things within. Kohaku?"
"Of course, Akiha-sama!" Kohaku smiled and nodded. "On your orders, I'd already arranged for the Mech-Hisuis to be disseminated across the city in the interim period while we were out travelling. And to prepare a variety of traps for the careless, of course!"
"As efficient as ever," Akiha nodded as the limousine pulled into view. "Well then, shall we? I believe we have an appointment with nii-san at the quay."
As Kohaku got into the car first, Akiha turned back to the regard Hisui, who was staring off into a distant with a somewhat dazed look on her face.
"What's the matter, Hisui?" a softer note entered Akiha's voice. "You're not worried about losing the bottle, are you? Don't worry, it was a surprise attack from Sion."
"That… is not it, Akiha-sama," Hisui shook her head hastily. "Do not worry. I will be fine."
"If you say so. Come on, get in the car. We have a potion to recover."
And with that, the three of them entered the car and began to drive down into the city.
"… Do you think Riesbyfe will be all right?" Satsuki asked as she glanced over her shoulder. "I mean, the person most likely to run into her is Ciel-senpai…"
"Riesbyfe is perfectly capable of looking after herself," Sion said, never once breaking stride as she continued down the path towards the quay.
"… I guess you're right." Satsuki swallowed hard. "And… and I guess that means it's just the two of us now, Sion."
Sion slowed in her step as she caught the meaning behind Satsuki's words. "Very well" She nodded once. "This was always going to happen sooner or later anyway. I'm ready when you are, Satsuki."
Satsuki crouched low, flexing her claws as Sion drew and primed her Black Barrel Replica. "May the best fighter win, Satsuki."
Satsuki nodded. "And to the victor go the spoils!"
I can do this! I have to do this! For Tohno-kun! That thought it mind, Satsuki leapt forward with swift punch that Sion ducked away from. Strands of etherlite whipped out to ensnare Satsuki, but concentrating her strength, Satsuki tore her way through her binds and charged Sion once more.
One, two, and three gunshots rang out from Sion's gun, and Satsuki leapt into the air, avoiding the bullets before she came down with a swift kick that Sion ducked away from.
C'mon! Focus! Clenching her fist, Satsuki made to advance on Sion again when the tap of a foot against concrete drew the two girls' attention away from their fight.
Turning, Satsuki caught sight of –
"Black Cat-san? What are you doing here?"
"Len, it's dangerous here," Sion said. "You should remain in our vicinity."
Len glanced at Sion, then and Satsuki, and before staring down at the bottle she now held in her hand.
"Wait, that's-!" Satsuki blurted out.
"I – impossible!" Sion patted at her pockets. "How – when did you get ahold of that, Len?"
Silently, Len turned the bottle so that she could read the label on the bottle, and her eyes widened.
"It – it's not what you think!" Satsuki blurted out. "It's just that-!"
Len raised her gaze once more to Satsuki and Sion, the look of outrage plain on her face. Before either of them could say a word, Len had changed into her cat form, the bottle clutched firmly in her mouth as she turned and sped away into the darkness of the night.
"We have to get that bottle back!" Sion proclaimed somewhat unnecessarily. "Come on, Satsuki!"
"R- right behind you!"
"Mm!" Arcueid had a smile on her face. "The pudding was delicious!"
"Glad you liked it," Shiki smiled back at her. Dinner had gone by surprisingly quickly, Arcueid having practically inhaled most of the dishes that they had served her. He could only suppose that she was making up for lost time from… wherever she had been.
Well, it wasn't like he hadn't been glad to get several hot drinks after his own journey.
And on that note… "Arc? Shall we take a walk after this?"
Arcueid smiled and nodded. "Sure! I could use the walk to help digest that food anyway."
Signalling the waiter for the bill, Shiki sat back to wait for it to arrive, and a frown made its way onto his face.
Coming at him at a speed just too fast for him to feel comfortable with was a limousine. One that he recognized. Even as he sat up in his chair, the car screeched to a halt, and Akiha emerged from the interior.
"Akiha?" he questioned, and Arcueid twisted in her seat to look behind her. "What are you doing here?"
"Oh, hey, Little Sister! Didn't know you were back in the city too!"
"… Nii-san," Akiha folded her arm and made a point of ignoring Arcueid. "Did anyone else come by a little earlier? Like, oh, Sion or Ciel?"
"Er, huh?" Shiki blinked and shook his head. "No, I don't think so."
"Typical," Akiha reached up to rub her forehead. "Even when they try to turn against you they can't do it right. Well then, change of plans. Nii-san, get in the car."
"W-what?" Shiki sputtered. "What's this about?"
"Yeah, Little Sister! This is pretty pushy, even for you. What's going on?"
"I'm pushy? That's a laugh coming from you, Arcueid," Akiha said arrogantly as she flipped her hair back. "Anyway, nii-san's in danger from Sion and Ciel, so I'm going to bring him to somewhere safe."
"Hahaha!" Arcueid laughed. "Well, no need to worry, Little Sister! I'm sure I can protect him from anything those two try!"
"…" Akiha heaved a sigh. "I knew words would be useless. Well, fortunately, I came prepared. Kohaku?"
"Yes, Akiha-sama! On your orders, I had the Mech-Hisuis mine every restaurant and eatery in town with smoke grenades in the possibility of Shiki choosing to visit one of them. And they'll activate once I press this button!"
"Wait, wha-" was all Shiki managed to get out before Kohaku tapped the button as hard as she could. Several muffled booming sounds could be heard, and suddenly the entire area was filled with grey smoke, obscuring all vision.
Shiki stood from his chair, only to feel delicate fingers on his shoulder, and he turned to see a smiling Kohaku at his side.
"Now, Shiki-san, if you wouldn't mind getting in the car?"
"… Sure thing, Kohaku. Just… just put that needle away, please."
The smoke soon cleared to see a rather sooty Arcueid sitting at the table, blinking in surprise. A moment later, a waitress hesitantly came up to her.
"Um, miss? The bill for this table…"
Arcueid glanced down at the tab. "Oh… I don't suppose you'd be willing to take a raincheck?"
"There's no end to these machines!" Ciel sputtered as she reduced another Mech-Hisui to scrap.
"Woo, that maid's sure got some brains in her head to be able to make an ensemble like this," Riesbyfe said admiringly as she ran another of the machines through.
"Now's not the time to be admiring the enemy!" I have to clear these away quickly so I can catch up with Sion and that potion!
"Analysing-situation." The Mech-Hisuis droned in unision. "Opponent-threat-level-extremely high.
"Wait, lethal-" Ciel sputtered before twin beams of golden light shot out from the nearest Mech-Hisui at her. Even as she regained her balance, a second Mech-Hisui charged her, its hands having been replaced with drills. As she evaded and tripped it, she caught sight of a third Mech-Hisui launching its arms at her like a rocket.
"How many weapons did she pack into these things?" Ciel said as she held back besides Riesbyfe. It was only then that she realized that Riesbyfe was silent. "… Shield Knight?"
"…" Ciel could see sparkles in Riesbyfe's eyes. "Did you see that? That was a Photon Beam attack! It was reproduced perfectly! And that twin rocket punch! The pose was even identical to how Zambot did it in the show!"
Great. The one ally I have in this fight turns out to be a giant robot geek. Scowling, Ciel assessed her options and leapt up to the rooftop.
"This is a waste of time," she snapped. "These robots can't stop me. I'm going after Sion and the potion. Do as you… will…" she trailed off as she caught sight of a black figure darting through the alley. "… Len?"
"Hey, Len's got the potion with her!" Riesbyfe yelled.
"… Assessing-situation. Feline-in-possession-of-retrieval-priority-target. Switching-combat-targets," as one, the remaining Mech-Hisuis turned to face Len, who had only now begun to realize that she was in a really bad position.
... Len has the potion in her mouth? And she's running in the opposite direction of the quay? Ciel's eyes narrowed. "I don't know what happened between you and Sion, but that potion is mine!"
And with that proclamation, she leaped into the air once more, drawing her Black Keys as she did so.
Sion was feeling rather frustrated as she ran through the alleys of Misaki City, seeking the elusive black cat.
Leave it to Len to derail our plans at the very last moment. But where would she go? Likely her first thought would be to hide the potion somewhere where we wouldn't be able to find it, but- Emerging out into the main street as a limousine drove by, Sion's eyes widened.
Akiha-san was in there! With Shiki Tohno! Making a split second decision, Sion burst into a sprint, her vampiric blood giving her the strength and speed needed to keep up with the car as it rolled down the main road.
The potion could come later. Right now she needed to make sure that nothing happened to Shiki before she was able to properly secure him for herself.
"Aw, this sucks…" Satsuki mumbled to herself as she wandered the back alleys. "Where could Black Cat-san have gone off to?"
And the look she gave us before she ran off. It was so… outraged. Satsuki reached up to scratch at her temple. I guess she wouldn't approve of us trying something with a potion like that. But still, it's my only chance to – eh?
Rounding a corner and rubbing her head in consternation was Arcueid Brunestud.
" – drags him off to who knows where and – Oh, it's Satsuki!" Arcueid broke out into a bright smile. "How are you tonight? Feeling okay?"
"… Oh, fine! Just fine!" Satsuki said, a bright smile pasted on her face. Arcueid being so nice to her was a bit of a problem, but then again, she didn't know what her being here… what her being around Shiki had done to her. "A… Arcueid-san!"
"Hm? Something the matter? To be honest, I'm a little busy."
"Y – yes!" Satsuki nodded with determination. Forget the potion! Forget sneaking around! I'm going to win Tohno-kun's heart the straightforward way! "Arcueid-san, I challenge you to a duel!"
"… A… duel…" Arcueid raised an eyebrow.
"Y – yes!" Satsuki nodded. "For the right to date Tohno-kun! The winner has to agree not to pursue any romantic relations with him."
"Oh, another one? You have got to be kidding me," Arcueid's demeanour changed in an instant, going from a pleasant, if somewhat ditzy looking girl to a cold, imperious princess with a glare that could melt steel. A look so similar to the one Arcueid had given her the first time they had met. "I never took you for another one of them, Satsuki."
Resisting the urge to quail with fright, Satsuki clenched her fist. "I've… I've known Tohno-kun for longer than you have! I have as much right to try to win his heart as you do."
"Two things. First, I've already 'won Shiki's heart', as you put it," Arcueid took a step forwards, and it took all of Satsuki's willpower not to take a step back. "Secondly, don't go getting ahead of yourself and thinking that you're anywhere near my league in terms of power."
"That's… that's where you're wrong!" Satsuki shouted. "You're right! Under normal circumstances there's no way I could beat you… but this… this is no ordinary situation!"
"Nh?" Arcueid raised an eyebrow.
"It's love!" Satsuki declared. "This time, I'm fighting for the sake of the one I love! The power of love is the strongest force in the universe, and as long as I have it on my side, there's no way I can lose!"
Silence fell upon the two of them for a very long moment. And then Arcueid sighed.
"What are you on about?"
"H – huh?"
"Even if I accepted your theory that fighting for the sake of love makes you stronger," Arcueid scowled at Satsuki. "You really don't think I love Shiki? I would give my life for him," her glare deepened. "I did give my life for him, and he would do the same for me."
"E- eh? So what you're saying is…"
"Yes, I am. I'm powered by love too!" And Arcueid leapt at Satsuki, a single fist clenched.
N – no way! I completely miscalculated? That was the only thought that went through Satsuki's mind before the blow connected.
White Len sighed as she stared at her home.
That was, honestly speaking, a bit of an injustice to the very word.
A collection of cardboard boxes thrown together and held up with duct tape, glue, and willpower, it nevertheless provided some protection from the elements outside, which was more than could be said of her last residence of a garbage bag.
Sometimes she wondered if it would really be so bad if she just swallowed her pride and asked her counterpart for help.
And then, with a sound like booming thunder, a figure in yellow smashed through the far end of the alley, slamming into the wall next to her home facefirst, and remaining stuck there.
"Nanaya, put the kettle on!" White Len called. "We have a guest!"
"Can I kill him?"
"Her. And no, you cannot."
After several long seconds, Satsuki slowly slid down from the wall and collapsed onto the floor.
"Say, do you prefer tea or coffee? Well, the main ingredient is dirt anyways, so I guess it doesn't really matter all that much…"
Satsuki let out a choked groan.
"So, do you plan on actually telling me where you're taking me or anything?" Shiki asked as he looked over at his sister. "Because I kind of had something planned for tonight, you know."
"All in good time, nii-san."
"We're sitting in a car with absolutely nothing else to do but talk. How is this not a good time?"
Akiha heaved a sigh and glanced over at Kohaku. "Kohaku, any luck on the tracking?"
"Sorry, Akiha-sama. But the visuals the Mech-Hisui's were sending me appear to have been cut off. I can't find Len-san anymore."
"Visuals? Mech-Hisuis? Akiha, what is going on?"
"Nii-san," Akiha aimed a glare his way. "Please be quiet."
"…" Shiki heaved a sigh and slumped back in his seat. "So, that's the way it's going to be, huh. In that case, I'm sorry, Akiha."
"Sorry? Sorry for wha-" Akiha's words were cut off as Shiki removed his glasses and reached up to slice the ceiling with his knife, cutting open a hole in the car.
"Shiki-sama! You can't! It's too dangerous!"
Shiki paused to glance at the two maids before grasping ahold of the lid of the hole and vanishing out the top of the limo.
"Stop the car!" Akiha snapped, and the limo screeched to a halt.
Throwing open the car doors, Akiha scrambled out, glancing frantically in all directions, not catching sight of her brother.
"Yes, yes, just a moment… ah, there we go. Akiha-sama, it appears he's heading in the direction of the park."
"I see. Then, we should-"
"You will do no such thing," from the shadows, Sion emerged, breathing heavily but otherwise at the ready. "Enough is enough, Akiha-san. I will have to deter you from further pursuit of him."
"Oh, is that so?" Akiha's eyes flashed dangerously and her hair began to rise around her. "You already messed up once when you lost the potion to Len. Why, one might even say you miscalculated."
Sion's fists tightened, and she shifted into a battle-ready stance.
"Yes, Akiha-sama! On your orders, I prepared an energy matrix around the perimeter of the park that would make it impossible for Shiki-san to escape once he entered it. Although…" a note of hesitancy entered her voice. "I made it so that one of us had to be there in person to manually activate the trap."
"Very well. Kohaku. Take Hisui with you and make sure nii-san doesn't leave the park. As for you, Sion…" Akiha turned to face the alchemist.
"I had hoped you would not interfere too much in this affair," Sion blew out a sigh. "I would have liked for us to remain comrades."
"Comrades… is that so?" Akiha said. "Well, I can't compromise on this matter."
"Understood. And neither will I," Sion's gaze narrowed. "Let us settle this, Akiha-san."
Several Black Keys slammed down in front of Len, forming a wall that effectively cut off her escape.
"Enough fun and games, Len," Ciel said coldly. "Give me the bottle. Now."
Len's gaze shifted back and forth for several long seconds until she came to the conclusion that there was indeed no easy out of this, and she spat the bottle down at Ciel's feet, obvious anger in her eyes.
"Don't look at me like that," Ciel snapped as she retrieved the potion. "You've no idea what I endured, do you?"
Len sniffed disdainfully and turned away, refusing to meet Ciel's gaze.
Well, that's the potion in my hands. And as for Riesbyfe… Ciel shifted her gaze to the side.
"C'mon, let me see it! Let me see it! Ooh, did Kohaku make you capable of performing a Giga Drill Breaker?"
Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, Ciel turned and jumped onto the top of a nearby lamppost, scanning the city. She had the potion, now all she needed to do was to locate Tohno-kun…
Meanwhile, Seven's spirit appeared on the ground next to Len, who now had a palpable aura of gloom around her at not being able to safely retrieve the potion.
"Cheer up, Len!" Seven said brightly. "Master won't use the potion for anything too bad! … I think."
"Ah, it appears he's settled himself down at a bench," Kohaku smirked. "Perfect! This will make setting up the energy web without him knowing so much easier! Hisui-chan, please keep a lookout on anyone else that might approach while I'm working."
"What is the point of all this? Merely isolating Shiki-sama. You're not planning on… holding him down and forcing the potion down his throat, are you?"
"Don't be silly, Hisui-chan! Nothing so crude as that. I'll probably slip it into a drink or something… ah, there we go!"
There was a crackling noise, and a blue shimmering dome appeared to cover the entirety of Misaki Park.
"Ohohohoho!" Kohaku laughed and clenched her fist in triumph. "My greatest work yet!"
"…" Hisui tugged at the sleeve of her sister.
"Hm? What is it?"
"Nee-san, it appears Arcueid-sama and Ciel-san have arrived."
"Fancy meeting you here."
"…" Ciel made no reply.
"I take it you've been involved with all the nonsense that's been going on tonight as well?"
"Maybe," Ciel raised an eyebrow. "That would depend on what sort of nonsense you ran into exactly. But right now, we've a slightly more important question."
"Yes, who put this stupid barrier up," Arcueid craned her neck to look at the top of the dome.
"Well, whoever did it, I'm not in the mood to play around," Ciel drew another set of Black Keys. "This wall is going down!"
"If one of you put this wall up, then I guess it was to separate me from Shiki. So I want it down too," with a nod, Arcueid wound her fist up.
"HAH!" as both attacks crashed into the barrier, it shattered into nothing, and Ciel dashed through, eyes darting back and forth for any sign of.
"Ah, Ciel-san!" from the bushes, Kohaku stepped out, her grand entrance only slightly cheapened by the presence of several leaves stuck in her hair. "I believe you have something I want."
"… Too bad," Ciel replied tightly. "The potion's mine to use."
"Oh, is that so? Fufufufu, you might not want to be so hasty to make proclamations like that, Ciel-san. You see, we anticipated you being the most dangerous of all our foes, and upon Akiha-sama's orders, I proceeded to find a way to defeat you!"
"… You found a way to defeat a Burial Agent like me?" Ciel said. "Don't make me laugh, Kohaku."
"Tsk, again with the hastiness," Kohaku raised a tiny packet up into the air. "Do you see this, Ciel-san?"
"What of it?"
"It's a special reagent I developed specifically for the purpose of defeating you! I call it the Rabuzone XZ Beta!" Kohaku pointed a finger at Ciel. "Do you know what this does?"
"No, but I have a feeling I'm going to find out."
"Fufufu, how smart you are. When I throw this to the ground, it will release a gas into the air – and when that gas becomes inhaled by a human, he or she… will become deathly allergic to curry!"
Ciel could actually feel her knees growing weaker. "You… you wouldn't…"
"Oh, wouldn't I?" Kohaku chuckled. "Upon Akiha-sama's orders, I distributed this reagent through the sprinkler watering systems of Misaki Park! Once I give the order, the entire area will be blanketed in my anti-curry gas! But you have the power to prevent that, Ciel-san. You know what to do, don't you?"
"… Tch! Fine!" angrily, Ciel threw the bottle over to Kohaku, who snatched it out of the air with one smooth motion. "This doesn't change anything anyway! Once that potion has been given to Tohno-kun, I'll still be able to win his heart myself!"
"My, Ciel-san! Such confidence. And now I must go! Magical Amber bids you all adieu!" and Kohaku jumped back into the undergrowth.
"…" Ciel stood once more in the empty park before turning and stalking away, grumbling to herself.
"Oh, Arc!" Shiki perked up as he caught sight of the vampire princess heading towards him.
"I had the feeling I'd find you here," Arcueid said as she stepped up. "It's our spot, after all."
"Yeah, I just needed some time to clear my head," Shiki sighed. "Tonight's been a crazy night."
"Tell me about it," Arcueid sighed as she flopped into the seat next to Shiki.
There was a comfortable silence amongst the two for a while, the two of them merely staring up at the stars. Silently, Shiki reached into his pocket, fingering the tiny box he held in there. Maybe now?
"Do you want to go get a cup of coffee or something? Ahnenerbe is open twenty four hours, and I could use a drink to calm down after all this madness."
Shiki blinked. "Yeah, a drink sounds pretty good. Lead the way, Arc."
Slowly, the two of them turned and left the park, hand in hand. A moment later, Kohaku arrived on the scene.
"My, my," she heaved a sigh. "Just a little too late."
"Kohaku," from behind her strode up Akiha, her clothes slightly torn. "Where's nii-san?"
"Well, according to the tracker, he's headed for Café Ahnenerbe right now," Kohaku smiled. "And based on your presence here, I guess you managed to handle Sion-san too?"
"Yes," Akiha heaved a sigh. "She'll be fine tomorrow morning."
"Good, good!" Kohaku smiled. "So I guess your usefulness has ended, Akiha-sama."
"What? Kohaku, you-"
From the trees, two more Mech-Hisuis emerged, their hands reaching out to seize Akiha's arms and hold her in place.
"Kohaku! You betrayed me?"
"Fufufufu," Kohaku laughed. "I've already gotten the potion, Akiha-sama. And almost everyone else has been incapacitated in one way or another. I no longer have any need to worry about rivals!"
"How dare you!"
"Didn't you say it yourself, Akiha-sama?" Kohakua spread her hands. "All's fair in love and war. You didn't think about how I wanted Shiki too, did you? But time is wasting! I know they're headed for Ahnenerbe. All I need to do is get there before them and make sure I add the potion to whatever it is they'll drink. Magical Amber, AWAY!"
And Kohaku fled into the night, leaving Akiha struggling against the two Mech-Hisuis.
It's quiet, Shiki thought as he settled himself into his chair. Almost no one here. I guess that means that I can…
"Your coffees, sir, ma'am." Chikagi smiled and placed the mugs on the table, as both Shiki and Arcueid nodded their thanks.
Several tables away, Kohaku smiled as she watched the two of them raise the mugs to their lips, almost exploding with excitement. So close! Just a little more and…!
Both of them took long drinks before setting the mugs down on the table.
"… Hey, Arc." Shiki's voice was soft.
"We've been together for… a while now, haven't we?"
"A couple of years." Arcueid nodded once.
"That's right," Shiki nodded. "It's gone by so fast – and there's been so much craziness… I'm really not sure what tomorrow will bring."
"I guess tonight was proof enough of that."
The two of them shared a brief chuckle before Shiki got serious again.
"But, even though I don't know what the future will bring, Arc… there's one thing I'm sure of."
Arcueid turned to face Shiki.
"I'm certain that… whatever ends happening to me in this life, I want you to be with me for it," swallowing, he left his chair and got down on bended knee. "Arcueid Brunestud… will you marry me?"
Kohaku's mouth had just about fallen open in shock. "This is… this is wrong!" she sputtered. "The potion was supposed to cancel their love, wasn't it? It… it didn't work!"
"Of course it did not."
Kohaku whirled. "Hi – Hisui-chan! When did you get here?"
"Just a moment after you, nee-san," Hisui said calmly as she raised a teacup to her lips.
"A- anyway! What's this about the potion not working? How come you're not surprised?"
"The potion did not work because you did not use the potion at all."
"That bottle contains nothing more than perfumed water. As for the actual Anti-Love Potion, I destroyed it the moment I got my hands on it."
"What? But why? Hisui-chan! I thought you wanted Shiki-san too!"
Hisui's lowered her head, her pink hair falling to cover most of her face. "Arcueid-sama…" she whispered.
"Arcueid-sama… Arcueid-sama is the only one who has ever liked my cooking! How could I possibly betray her trust after that?"
"H – Hisui-chan…"
Anything else Kohaku might have said was cut off by what had to be one of the loudest shouts of joy Kohaku had ever heard, and she turned back to see Arcueid tackling Shiki to the ground.
"Yes! Yes, Shiki, of course! Of course I'll marry you!"
As she watched Arcueid lock her lips with Shiki in what was a long and exceptionally messy smooch, Kohaku turned back to her own drink and lay her head on the table.
"Bummer." She muttered.
"And so Akiha-sama punished nee-san for her betrayal by burning her garden to the ground." Hisui concluded her explanation to Shiki.
"So that's what that wailing noise I heard last night was…"
"Yes," from beside Hisui, Kohaku nodded and smiled. "Luckily I was able to save most of the seeds, so I'll have it up and running again in no time!"
"Well, I have to go," Shiki nodded as he stood. "Arcueid wants my help with the planning for the whole thing."
"What, already?" Kohaku looked up.
"She's… pretty enthusiastic about the whole thing," Shiki said as he headed for the door. As his hand rested on the doorknob, he paused before turning back to Hisui. "Hisui… thanks."
Hisui blushed scarlet. "It… it was merely my duty, Shiki-sama."
As Shiki left the room, Hisui turned back to her sister. "Are you sure you will be all right, nee-san?"
"Oh, psh," Kohaku sighed and leaned back in her seat. "It's just a broken heart, Hisui-chan. I'll be over it in no time."
"It was a pretty fun adventure, though," Kohaku laughed. "We should go on another one sometime. Just you, me, and Akiha-sama."
"… Yes, let us do so."
"Shikiii!" Arcueid hugged him tightly as he entered her room. "Where were you? I was wondering when you'd show up – I need help with all these plans!"
"Whoa!" Shiki blinked as he saw stacks upon stacks of paper cluttering up the room. "What are all these, Arc?"
"Oh, you know," Arcueid waved her arm carelessly. "Consultants, dress designers, party planners. I asked Sion for help and maybe she went a little overboard with gathering up the options."
"A little overboard is right." Shiki said as he began leafing through a piece of paper.
"But still, I guess it's better to be thorough," Arcueid turned to smile at him. "After all, this is going to be our Happily Ever After, isn't it?"
"…" Shiki nodded and smiled back. "Yes. Yes it is."
It's been a fun ride. Thanks for sticking with me, everything.
What's next? Well, in about a month's time or so… say hello to a certain Magical White Moon Princess. Hope you look forward to it!